Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I've just begun story board work on the new Avengers series.
There are more than a few great talents involved on this, and I have high hopes for it.
It's sure to be a crowd pleaser.
It's far too early to really go into much detail here, but it's got me fired up, so I figured I'd mention it.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
So the Star Wars Clone Was series finally kicked off last night. Like many I was anxious to see the final cut. I really have to give a big nod to Steve Melching and Henry Gilroy for doing such a great job with the scripting. They managed to bring some much lacking character back to Star Wars. Hurray!! This was always a big intention of mine, but it would have been futile if not for solid scripting. When I first read the script I immediately knew that story artist Rick Morales was the guy to handle the cave scene where Yoda encourages his Clone escorts. It was a important character peice at the script stage, but Rick stole the show by making this a somber yet inspiring moment with Star Wars' most iconic character. The soft glow of the lantern and the shot selection reinforced the mood perfectly. Sadly Rick's name went unlisted in the credits, so let's give him a round of applause for crafting a great Yoda scene! I hope Lucasfilm will correct this oversight for the next broadcast and dvd release. Also big thanks to Stewart Lee and Justin Ridge for all of the great storytelling they injected into the episode. They're great fellas too! Oddly a few guys who didn't work on the episode at all were credited in the storyboard listing. Wierd.
Overall I am pretty happy with the Episode. So much work goes into these things, and It's great to see your story and pacing sensebilities pay off.
As for giving the Clones individual traits and characteristics that was always one of Filoni and Gilroys main objectives. It is pivotal in getting the audience to care about these often faceless soldiers, and will benifit the series for it's entire duration.
The only things that got cut were two shots of giant flying Thantras (whale like creatures with wings). These guys initially flew over Yoda and his Clones at their pods landing site on Rugossas' moon. They were included to immediatly set up the magesty of the location and later tied back in as tiny baby Thantras landed on Yoda's shoulders at the end of his canyon fight. It's a shame they had to go as Yoda and Thire still have dialogue supporting them and it would have given a better tone to the show. The idea of juxtaposing the beauty and serenity of the enviorments and it's indigenous life, against the machined robots and war hardened clones (and all of the chaos they bring) was what I was shooting for. After all it's a trademark of Star Wars mythology. Yoda the buddist, fits right in here!
I know I saw the giant Thantras flying around in a promo shot for the show, so my guess is they weren't built in time to be included in this early episode.
Russell Chong is the talent who concieved of the moon's coral eviornment. I deviated a bit from the "fishtank" feeling for the canyon location, but still retained the pourous nook texture which lent itself perfect to the inclusion of natural caves. Designing locations that action can exploit is one of the fun things about directing. The color pallet is a bit "pastelly" for my taste, but there is enough Ralph McQuary thinking (mainly the orange sky) to keep it from being too garish.
Overall I would have liked to see more in the way of contact and cast shadows to anchor characters to the enviornment. Depicting weight is really important in "selling" the animation.
The animators did a great job, but bumping up the shadows a bit would have sold their work better.
Killian Plunket is such an amazing talent. He designed King Katoonko and his gaurds. Again, they were animated beautifully by the team in Singapore. In fact this entire episode was handled there and as some of thier early work, it came out amazing! Big appluase for LAS!! The series shines when you've got these great creature designs teamed with solid acting.
Katoonko's little visor was something we added at the story board stage to allow him to have his hands free while using binoculures.
It's been 2 years since I directed this episode. Having some distance from it I can objectivly (well as much as I can be) say I thought it was successful in it's efforts.
Thanks to everyone at LucasFilm for all of their hard work!
It's great to see Gonzo out of retirement!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I published my first art book for Comic Con this past year and have a few cases left.
I'm really happy with the printing. All of the color is spot on.
Here's the listing if your interested in picking one up fo yo self!
Bullock Art Works!
From animation artist Dave Bullock (2008 Emmy nominated director of Justice League: The New Frontier and episodic director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars CGI series) comes Bullock Art Works!
A 48 page, hard back, full color collection of original art, character designs, and comic book cover art. Limited Print run. Get your copy now!
$25.00 + $5.00 shipping & handling to US locations.
$15.00 for international shipping.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy.
I recently did a interview to promote the work I did on Cartoon Network's Star Wars Clone Wars series.
Here it is in it's entirety. I hope it gives a interesting perspective on the project.
Dave Bullock Star Wars: Clone Wars Episodic Director Interview 9/23/08
"AMBUSH", The first episode of the brand-new, CG-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Oct. 3 on Cartoon Network.
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
I was born on Sept. 9th 1971 in Camden, New Jersey, and grew up in Medford lakes, New Jersey not far from the Pine Barrones where the Jersey Devil haunts.
I have a BFA in Animation from The University of The Arts in Philadelphia. It was sort of like the movie "Fame", where you had visual and performing artists together for some of the classes. Not so much dancing in the halls or on cars though.
From there I moved to LA and was mentored by a fella named Dan Kuenster. Dan is a master of hand drawn animation and has served as a sequence directed on several of Don Bluth's films.
Where do you live now?
I currently reside in sunny Southern California, the mecca of animation, fake tans and traffic.
What are your past/present credits?
Over the past few years I have Directed WB Animations 2008 Emmy nominated super-jock movie Justice League: The New Frontier, and served time as a Series Director on Sony Animations The Spectacular Spider-man.
During the year I spent at Skywalker Ranch I directed three episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars. The first of which was initially titled "Castle Of Salvation" and would later become the last third of the Clone Wars feature film. I'm proud to have my second episode "Ambush" launch the new Cartoon Network Clone Wars series on October 3rd.
Prior to directing, I spent approximately 13 years studying film, animation and drawing while story-boarding on animated action adventure projects, including The Superman Batman adventures, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, X-men Evolution and Disney's Kim Possible, to name a few.
Most recently I did some visual development work on the upcoming CGI Thunder-Cats movie as well as storyboards for Hasbros G.I. Joe animated project.
Aside from animation I have worked as a cover artist for DC Comics on Action Comics (starring Superman) and Teen Titans Go!. Currently I'm having a great time generating covers for Marvel Senior Editor the Mighty Mark Paniccia and Jordan White on The Age Of The Sentry (on stands now!) as well as Iron Man and a upcoming X-Men related title which I'm not at liberty to discuss yet.
Are there any special tricks to directing for Star Wars/Clone Wars?
The biggest trick of all was not being able to discuss the project for 2 and 1/2 years while everyone worked away up at Skywalker. Oh and San Rafael had record amounts of rain that first year. All of us LA transplants wanted to throw ourselves out a window and into lake ewok, some with no clothes on. So staying dry was a real trick.
As a Director on Clone Wars my job, (aside from lots of story-boarding) was to coordinate George's vision of classic serial films (and SW lore) along with my story and film instincts and the design and animation instincts of the crew to tell the story in the clearest most exciting way. I knew that we had a incredible group of talent (everyone from story-board artists, to designers & modelers, riggers, texture and layout artists) and that by giving each artist some latitude and room to be creative (while making sure the story stayed on track) I could not only keep them happy while doing their job, but the studio would get everyones best effort. I know most of us looked forward to getting to work in the morning because we were having a great time working things out.
Aside from making the many individual episodes our production team was concurrently setting up and establishing a information pipeline between those of us on the Ranch and the tremendous talent located at LAS (LucasFilm Animation Singapore) and CGCG in Korea. I can't say enough good things about the hard working talent at those locations. Thanks to Sara Wall and Michelle Yost (to name a few) we really were on our way to becoming one big studio working around the clock. We would have video conferences with LAS at 7:00 pm West coast time (roughly 9:00 am in Singapore) before heading home and the next morning be able to see their days efforts , the equivalent of "dailies", the next morning.
How'd you get the gig?
One afternoon while story-boarding on Justice League Unlimited at WB, I received a call from a fella named Tom Knott. Tom was charged with rounding up portfolios at Executive Producer Catherine Winders request. Turned out years prior I had story-boarded on a Van Helsing animated DVD movie for a wonderful and talented gal named Sharon Bridgeman, then at Universal. Sharon, had worked with Catherine on HBO's Spawn series, and recommended me for the Director position. Catherine liked my work enough to set up a meeting in LA, and the next thing I knew, I was meeting George Lucas, Rob Coleman and Phil Peterson along with several members of Lucas Film's management at the 2005 Siggraph convention in LA, where George was the keynote speaker. It was a bit surreal at first, but as we are all passionate about film, animation, and of course Star Wars, we had a lot to discuss.
George mentioned that he wanted his new Star Wars series to be heavily shadowed, almost graphic with lots of epic action , sort of a film noir anime (Sin City was fresh on everyones minds) . And I thought, hell, that's me, I'm your guy! From there I visited Skywalker Ranch and met three outstanding gentlemen that comprised the entire crew at the time. Greg McGuire was the tech guru who immediately eased my concerns about CG acting by showing me early R&D displaying the range of a "first crack" Anakin's facial expressions, while Darren Marshal was sculpting amazing renditions of Alex Woo's early 2d designs. I really felt like I connected with those guys, and that, aside from the beautiful location, that meeting was the thing that really sold me on the project. The lightsabers didn't hurt either. From there I accepted the position and began the process of relocating from LA to San Rafael. It is really something to think back about the growth of the studio at that time. The studio was spacious with a few guys at the beginning, but a year later we were bursting at the seems with so much talent that people were stationed where ever they could fit them. Hallways, and closets became offices until they made the move to Big Rock.
Any incidental information you can provide about working on this
series – advice, direction, anecdotes, special meaning to you?
Story telling really takes off when you have other people with interesting ideas together in a room with a million little sketches.
The most fun I had on the project was working with Rick Morales, Stewart Lee, Justin Ridge, Rob Coleman and George Samilski. We had a script, but there is always a process of figuring out a clever idea and boiling it down for a quick read.
I really actually enjoyed what all the departments brought to the table. Our layout team was full of guys who wanted to tell story! They would throw lamps into shots and practically animate them because they loved it. It's my understanding that they are now acting as virtual storyboard men. Lucas' R&D fellas had hatched a promising proprietary program called Z-Viz.
Z-Viz appealed to George for several reasons, but mostly because it gave the filmmaker a quick way of finding "just the right shot" with in a 3 dimensional space. As well as the program was coming along, the project remained mostly on paper that first year.
To what degree were you a Star Wars fan going into this job, and has that changed in
Going into the job I had been a fan of the movies. I'm with the faction that was the target age when the first three came out, so I naturally enjoy those more. Looking back at them I realize the thing that most appealed to me was the actors. Whether or not the Academy thinks they are worthy, they were very honest and fun. Caring about the characters is what invests me as a viewer. I still think a series advancing the Luke era group would kill. The "Heir to the Empire" novels have a great plot. I don't think Lucas considers them cannon, but he might want to give them a second look. And of course I still have my SW toys from when I was a kid. Most are boxed up in the garage now, but Disco 12' Luke is out along with the Commander Fox Target exclusive figure. The fella who coordinates exclusives for Target hooked me up with that at Comic Con when he learned I had designed Fox's paint scheme and gear pack. My first action figure!.. .sort of.
Prior to working on the show I knew the secondary characters by their toy names ( ie Walrus-man, Bossk), but within the first couple of months I learned their race names, where they hailed from in the galaxy, weapons & vehicle motifs and characteristics of their races. You can really get carried away with the minutia if you like. The only real benefit to knowing it all is that you can put a gag or something in that the core fans will pick up on, but generally George would weed it out as he felt it was too obscure a reference for everyone to get. This would lead to Filoni stating over and over "Star Wars is dead". It wasn't out of disrespect, but it was Dave's way of reminding us that we were making something for the next generation.
Some specifics of Ambush:
The theme of the episode is that "Size Matters Not" and yet I'm
guessing there are challenges to directing Yoda that relate
specifically to his proportions in coordination with other characters
and sets. Can you explain those challenges and how you approached them
Yoda is small enough that when he walks next to a full size character he has to take many more steps to keep pace. To avoid keeping him from looking like "Spikes little buddy" we would try to either cut around the wide shot or just move into a smart set up. I remember boarding Yodas big fight scene in "Ambush", and Rob Coleman giving me a few pointers. Rob had animated Yodas big Dooku fight in Episode 2 and the Emperor fight in Episode 3. He told me that George liked to flip a switch so that Yoda would go from very reserved to "springy". In fact Lucas had at one point charged Rob with having Yoda spin like "the Tasmanian Devil with a light saber". Thank heavens Coleman came up with something better.
Going into Ambush I spoke with my story guys, and everyone agreed that we should lean more toward the Empire Strikes Back, impish Yoda overal, but more serious for the reflective moments, and go with Robs ninja Yoda for the action bits. Yoda kicks some ass in this ep. In fact he kicks Tank ass. It's weird how you never let go of this work. To this day there is a gag I wish I would have worked into the big fight. Overall I think we showed too much restraint with the force powers. After all it's the magic of Star Wars, and part of what makes it unique.
What were your favorite scenes to direct in Ambush?
My favorite sequence in Ambush has to be one that story-man Rick Morales boarded. Yoda gives a pep-talk to his clone entourage while hiding out in a cave.
Not only is it moody and well shot, but Rick managed to get to the heart of Yoda's character without being cute about it. Star Wars characters really shine when they have the opportunity to motivate and instill confidence in others.
What makes this a great story?
I wouldn't say this is a "great story". Vaders retribution, due to his son's faith in him is a great story. Ambush is a nice little story where Yoda proves his worth as a leader by both his actions and philosophy.
Is there anything you're particularly proud of within this episode?
I'm really proud of the fact that this ep went to me to direct as I knew it was "the" Yoda episode. In fact it wasn't even titled "Ambush" until it was in layout, for months it was just called "the Yoda episode". Any chance to work with the main SW characters was a thrill because we knew we were adding to their history, but it was a bit unnerving because it had to be handled properly otherwise the fans would not buy it. I still love the Yoda valentine George Samilski sent me stating "Yo da one for me". Ah, young love at the ranch.
Was it hard to direct an episode of Ventress? Was it fun to depict her ruthless nature?
Ventress is a bit less calculating than Dooku, but definitely has the smell of a woman scorned. Despite a poor child hood ("No blue milk for you young lady"), she does have good birthing hips and swing dual sabers. In Ambush, Ventress fills the role of a diplomat right up until she is shown for her true colors, then she reaches for her saber. She's very frustrated really. Mainly due to the fact that her droid keystone cops are trying to carry out her orders. She is probably best just doing everything herself.
What made this episode right for you, and vice-versa?
Well, as I've mentioned Ambush is a fun character piece for Yoda, that's what makes it worth telling and watching. With out his buddist pearls of wisdom and compassion, it's just a bunch of saber and blaster fx. Henry Gilroy did a great job of structuring this story and injecting interesting character. As a story oriented artist I enjoy the diversity that the weekly serial format provides. One week it's a drama, the next a comedy, and so forth. As goofy as it sounds, I would have even gotten a kick out of directing a Jar Jar episode. There are so many great characters to explore in the SW universe, it would be great fun to take a crack at them all.
"AMBUSH", The first episode of the brand-new, CG-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Oct. 3 on Cartoon Network.